Before You Call A Repairman

Dryer Problems You Can Fix

Things to Check Before Calling the Repairman About Your Dryer

If your clothes dryer is not working correctly, there are dryer problems you can fix before you call the repairman.

Dryer will not run

Is it plugged in? This seems so simple but countless repairmen have said that's often all it takes to make an appliance work again.

Dryer will not run and it's plugged in

Check your central home electrical box to see if a fuse has blown or a circuit breaker has been tripped. You may be able to replace the fuse or turn the circuit breaker back on. If this happens frequently, call an electrician immediately!

Dryer is making a terrible noise

Stop the drying cycle and check the contents. Are all buckles fastened? Are zippers zipped? Are there "extra" items - coins, wallets, keys - taking a spin?

Still noisy? It could be the motor or a broken drive belt.

Clothes are taking too long to dry

Check the lint filter. If the lint filter is loaded, air will not flow freely and your machine is forced to work longer than necessary.

If the filter is full, you may also have lint trapped between the dryer drum and the filter. Use a long-bristled brush to clean out the trapped lint. You'll get your dryer working more efficiently and prevent a possible fire.

Filter is clean and clothes won't dry
If your filter is clean, the dryer is heating up but it is still taking too long to dry clothing; there are two things to check.

Is the dryer exhaust hose kinked or clogged? Use that long-handled bristle brush to clean out the dryer hose. Ideally, the hose should be as short as possible between the machine and the outside exhaust vent to prevent clogging.

Now, go outside and check the outside vent. Most are designed with a trap door that only opens when dryer air - and lint - are blown out. If the vent hood and/or trap door gets coated with lint, the trap door can't open. This is often a problem in high humidity climates. Check it every few months, you'll be amazed at the amount of lint you find. If it helps you to place a reminder on your calendar, then do it. 

No clue what's wrong

When all else fails, pull out the operating manual and read it. The manual may have something specific for your model of dryer to check out. Misplaced the manual? Visit the manufacturer's website and having the model number handy will probably help. It may take a little time but it's much less expensive than a repair call.

Still no clue

One last thing to do before calling a repairman is to visit online appliance repair sites for any suggestions.

# # #

Washer Problems You Can Fix

Washer problems you can correct before you call the repairman.

Washer won't run

Is it plugged in? Countless repairman have found the washer was not plugged in and all it took was to re-seat the plug into the electrical socket.

Washer won't run and it's plugged in

Has a fuse or circuit breaker blown? Check the electrical box. If needed, replace the fuse or reset the circuit breaker. If it continues to blow fuses or circuit breakers, call an electrician immediately. Be safe.

Washer will not fill with water

Check both the hot and cold water supply lines to ensure both are open. Some  washers will not run unless both are open, even if you only use cold water. If the machine fills with water very slowly, one or both values may be partially open, open them all the way.

Water valves are open and the washer will not fill

If the supply valves are open, and the washer will not fill, a water filter may be clogged. (1) Unplug the machine. (2) Turn the water valves to the closed position. (3) Find a bucket to catch the water remaining in the hoses. (4) One at a time, unscrew the hoses from the machine, emptying the bucket after each one as needed. (5) Check the filter for clogs and remove the clogs as needed. If you can only partially clean the filter, plan to purchase and install a replacement. (6) Reconnect the hoses, slowly open the water supply valves, and check to make sure there are no leaks.

Washer is making a terrible thumping noise

This is often the result of the contents of the wash unevenly distributed around the agitator, creating an out of balance condition. It could be from uneven loading or from the contents shifting during the wash. Always attempt to load the washer evenly at the start of a load of laundry. If thumping occurs during a washing cycle, just stop the machine, redistribute the clothing and restart the machine.

Water puddles on the floor

Check the connection of the water supply hoses to the values. Tighten the connections if you find any dampness. Look at the hoses, if you find small splits, replace immediately (probably both hot and cold at the same time for peace of mind). Take the hose in your hand and squeeze. If it feels soft or soft in some areas and not in others, replace immediately. Burst hoses can create expense clean-up depending on what is near your washer. Water supply hoses should be checked regularly and replaced as needed to prevent bursting.

Soapy puddles on the floor

Front loading machines are designed to use a low suds detergent, sometimes called a high efficiency (HE) detergent. Check the detergent you are using and switch if needed.

Front loading machines also have an overflow system, typically on the back of the machine. Excess suds could be escaping thru the overflow system.

Clothes are still wet after spin cycle

If your clothing is sopping wet after the spin cycle, the water is not exiting the machine as intended. First check the water exhaust hose for bends or kinks that could prevent the water from exiting. If your machine moves around during the spin cycle, it could have kinked the hose.

Second, if the exhaust hose has a lint trap, check to see it is clogged. If it is clogged, clean or replace the lint trap.

Third, the exhaust hose could be clogged with lint or hair. The hose can be cleaned with a long flexible brush. If you cannot find one at the hardware store, check the pet shop for one used to clean aquarium tubes.

No clue what's wrong

When all else fails, read the instructions in the operating manual. Find it and read it. It could have something specific to your model of machine that is not covered in these guidelines. If you can't find it, check the manufacturer's website.

Still no clue

One last thing to do before calling a repairman is to visit on line appliance repair sites.

# # #

Refrigerator Problems You Can Fix

Refrigerator problems you can correct before you call the repairman.

How to Repair a Refrigerator?

If your refrigerator breaks down, you need to know how to get it fixed as soon as possible or risk losing everything inside. The main thing is to know what you need to try to fix.

Before you call the repairman, or roll up your own sleeves, make some initial cursory checks. That way you do not embarrass yourself later. Ensure that the appliance is, indeed, plugged in. Also, double check the circuit breaker.

Next inspect the fans on the appliance. If they are dirty, vacuum them off. Dirt sometimes clogs the fans and inhibits the appliance’s ability to cool itself.

Let’s examine fixes for specific problems.

If your fridge is not cooling:

The problem could be a problem with the gasket or dirty coils.

Gasket Repair

You will know you have a gasket problem if you run this basic test. Put a dollar bill between the gasket—which is a rubber seal around the door—and the fridge itself. If the dollar bill comes out easily, then you need to replace the gasket.

Go to your local hardware store and buy a gasket that is specific to the make and model of your refrigerator. Resist the temptation, to buy a one-size-fits-all gasket. You should pick up a large cooler and some ice too. You will need the gasket to sit in your kitchen for twenty-four hours. Doing so will allow it to adjust to the humidity and room temperature, in the room.

Take off the fasteners that secure the gasket in place. Remove the old gasket and discard.

Clean the area with gentle detergent. Make sure to take off the old adhesive.

Begin working the new gasket onto the door by starting at one end and working toward the other. Smooth out the gasket and apply the cement that came with it. Then put the fasteners onto the new gasket. Close the door and check the seal. If it is off, then make adjustments as needed.

Condenser coils

These are located on the bottom front of your appliance. Pull of the grill on the bottom and get down on your stomach to check out the coil. It is a black tube that runs back and forth.

At this point, you will need a brush from your hardware store specifically made for this job. It will cost you less than a fiver. It is called a condenser coil brush.

You will take this brush and run it back and forth along the coil to free the lint, dirt, dust, and random items that have rolled under the fridge.

Once you are finished, replace the grill and give the appliance time to begin properly again.

Condenser Fan

This fan is located below the appliance. You will need to remove the grill below and get down on your stomach to find it. Clean the blades of the fan, which often become caked with lint and soil. If you clean it and the blades are not turning, spray a little WD40 on it. Take your hand and turn the blades as you spray. That should start the fan running again.

If you have done these steps and the fan is not spinning, then you will need to remove it. Take it with you to the hardware store, so you can purchase a new one.

If your fridge leaks in front of the appliance:

Safety First

If you are going to repair your fridge yourself, unplug the power to avoid electric shock.

Drain Pan

Find the Drain Pan. It is located on the bottom of the fridge, underneath the grill, in front of the refrigerator. The grill snaps out of place. Remove it. Pull the drain pan toward you. Empty the pan into the sink and then inspect for holes. If you do not find any holes, double check the pan by filling it with tap water and observing whether it leaks. If you need to replace the drain pain, simply take the damaged one into a hardware store. Once you have purchased a new one, slide it back into the spot under the fridge. Replace the grill.

Many things on your refrigerator will require notice of a professional. But the problems discussed above can be done at home with little difficulty.

# # #

Garbage Disposal Will Not Turn On (no noise)

OK, before we start with any troubleshooting, I want you to promise me that you will please obey the cardinal rule of "Garbage Disposal Repair". That is you will never put your hand in the hopper (down the drain into the disposal)!
That being said, let's take a look at fixing this vital piece of kitchen equipment.
Disposal Will Not Turn On (no noise)

If the disposal will not turn on and it is NOT making a humming sound, then there is an electrical problem.
  • This may seem obvious, but make sure the disposal is plugged in.
  • If it is plugged in then press the Reset button found on the bottom of the unit. If it has reset, the button will be popped out.
  • If that does not work, check to see if the circuit breaker has tripped and turned off in the electrical service panel.
  • If the breaker has not tripped and the reset button is not popped out, then it's either a faulty switch or a faulty garbage disposal. First locate the switch that powers the disposal unit. It should be located on the wall but may be under the sink.
  • Turn off the circuit breaker at the service panel which powers the disposal.
  • Replace the switch.
  • Turn power back on at the service panel and check the disposal for operation.
  • If the disposal will still not turn on and makes no noise, the garbage disposal is beyond repair and needs to be replaced.

# # #

Garbage Disposal Will Not Turn On (humming noise)

OK, before we start with any troubleshooting, I want you to promise me that you will please obey the cardinal rule of "Garbage Disposal Repair". That is you will never put your hand in the hopper (down the drain into the disposal)!

That being said, let's take a look at fixing this vital piece of kitchen equipment.

Stuck Flywheel / Disposal Will Not Run (makes a humming noise)

If the garbage disposal won't turn on but makes a humming sound when you flip the switch, it won't do that for long. That means you have a stuck flywheel and the reset button on the unit itself or the fuse or circuit breaker in your electrical service panel will trip and turn off very quickly. The flywheel is stuck because something is lodged between it or the impeller(s) and the shredder ring.

  • To start the repair, turn off power to the garbage disposal at the electrical service panel.
  • Reminder: Don't ever put your hand down into the garbage disposal hopper (grinding chamber).
  • Take the offset wrench that came with the disposal unit and insert the wrench into the flywheel turning hole in the bottom of the unit. If you don't have the wrench you can pick one up from the hardware store that sells your garbage disposal.
  • Once the wrench is inserted, turn it clockwise to dislodge the stuck impeller or flywheel. When it dislodges, you'll feel the flywheel turn freely.
  • Another approach is to try and use a wooden broom-handle or similar wooden object to free the stuck impeller and flywheel from the top of the unit through the drain.
  • Place the broom-handle into the hopper and against an impeller. Use leverage to try and free the stuck flywheel. As before, when it dislodges you'll feel the flywheel turn freely.

# # #
Dishwasher -- Problems and Solutions

Dishwasher won't run.
  • Make sure the door is completely closed and locked.
  • Check the settings of both the timer and selector buttons.
  • Check your fuse box/circuit breaker.
  • Check your door switch for damage.
  • The wall switch is in the off position.
Your dishes are getting clean.
  • The water may not be getting hot enough. Check the water temperature from the tap. It should be between 140 and 150 degrees F. Check the water heater's setting.
  • Be sure to clean and rinse all dishes before loading.
  • Make sure your dishes are stacked correctly and not obstructing any moving parts.
  • Start with a fresh container of detergent. Your detergent could be too old.
  • Check to make sure your detergent dispenser is opening. Remove hardened detergent or mineral deposits from the cup. Be sure the lid is not blocked and check the dispenser solenoid.
  • The machine's spray arms may be blocked. Make sure nothing is obstructing them.
The dishwasher tub isn't filling.
  • The water inlet valve or solenoid may be broken.
  • Your water filter could be clogged. If you have a filter clean it.
  • The overflow switch could be malfunctioning. The unit will not fill if it's stuck up in the full position.
  • The timer may be defective and need to be replaced.
The water won't stop running.
  • The inlet value could be stuck. Try to shut it.
  • The timer could be broken.
  • The overflow switch could be stuck. If it is frozen on the EMPTY position, the water will continue to run.
The dishwasher won't drain.
  • Check for a clogged drain hose. Disconnect it and blow through it to be sure it's clear.
  • The pump motor may be defective and need to be replaced.
  • Your timer may be broken. Replace it.
The dishes aren't drying.
  • Mineral deposits could be accumulating on the heating element. Distilled white vinegar in the jet dry receptacle and clean the entire dishwasher.
  • Check the electrical connections around the heating element.
  • The heating element may be burnt out and need to be replaced.
  • Your timer may be broken and will need to be replaced.
Dishwasher is leaking.
  • Check the door seal for damage. Replace the seal if necessary.
  • Overflow switch could be defective. Check the switch for damage.
  • Check the door hinges. Replace them if they are not working properly.
  • Make sure your machine's heating element's nuts are not loose. Tighten the nuts that attach the element to the tub.
  • Check for loose hose clamps. Tighten any loose clamps.
The dishwasher is making a lot of noise.
  • Make sure the spray arm is not hitting the dishes. Reload the washer and make sure the arm is clear.
  • A knocking sound while the unit fills, could mean a damaged water inlet valve. It will need to be replaced.
  • There may not be enough water in the tub. Don't use other faucets while the dishwasher fills.